Pyracantha coccinea is a newer European species of Pyracantha shrub with fewer thorns, it was cultivated since the 16th century. The name Pyracantha, a combination of words from Greek means fire and thorn, therefore the common name Firethorn. Pyracantha is native from Southwest Europe to Southeast Asia and is part of the Rosaceae family of plants. This plant was introduced to the United States in the 18th Century. The fruits of Pyracantha or as classified pomes, they are a bit bitter, similar to apples or cherries where the pulp is safe to eat yet the seeds are mildly poisonous and could be harmful in large quantities especially consumed raw. However, it is possible to make a jam and remove the seeds. Yet the fruit is a good food source for birds especially in cold winters where other types of food are scarce.
Pyracantha coccinea does well in the sun or partial shade and flowers usually late spring and summer, mostly in June. It will produce more berries in the sun than in shade. It is a hardy, evergreen shrub that produces a lot of red berries for autumn and winter. A variety called Pyracantha coccinea ‘lalandei’ was cultivated to produce yellow berries. So it produces a lot of interest in the landscape all year round, and this variety with fewer thorns is easier to maintain and prune. You can prune them in mid-summer if you are growing it as a hedge. Otherwise, in early spring you can trim off any dead branches and shape it. Watch for scab or leaf blight. This plant can also be trained as a climber or a wall shrub.
Plant Pyracantha coccinea in fertile soil but well-drained. If you are planting by a wall as a wall shrub give it some room, about 50cm or 20in. Propagate by cuttings in a moist environment with light, not direct sun, it could take up to 10 weeks for roots to form.